Dragon Age: Origins. Done.
I completed Dragon Age: Origins last Saturday evening, almost exactly two weeks after I purchased it (or rather traded in the PS3 version for the PC one) with a total of just under 50 hours clocked. Yep, I had a pretty intense Christmas holiday with it, exactly what I needed. I wanted a great single player game to get stuck into and I got one.
Without a doubt, Dragon Age is a fantastic single player game, right up there with Mass Effect, BioShock, Sins of a Solar Empire and golden oldies like C&C, Civilisation II and Final Fantasty VII (I’m just listing the games that I got truly hooked on and consumed my life for weeks). One of the highlights of it for me was having so much freedom of choice and ability to truly roleplay the character I wanted. I decided right from the start to be the “bad” guy or, well, the “misunderstood” guy who would do anything to end the Blight, to any extent. It made sense to me that a character who lost his family would be driven to the depths of darkness and lose his moral compass. He was also bisexual but that’s another blog post.
After playing MMORPGs for almost 18 months solid since playing another single player RPG, it was very refreshing and welcoming to be given so much choice in my character’s direction and influence. Dragon Age doesn’t hold your hand and prevent you from making bad choices. In fact, some of the decisions I made probably made the game harder for myself in the long run (such as killing a certain magical companion instead of accepting their offer to join my party) but they were my choices to make. I’m glad to say that I really tried to roleplay my character and not just min/max my stats and take the easy, most competitive routes.
Of course, DA:O isn’t without it’s flaws and there are a few biggies that will certainly niggle at you along your journey. For starters, the AI is shockingly bad and sometimes your companions operate just fine on their own and sometimes they act like they’ve had a frontal lobotomy. The selection of companions available is also very poor and you end up with something like 6 Warriors but only 2 Rogues and 2 Mages to choose from and it’s a little frustrating. The game is also incredibly long which, yes, most people will see as a good thing but to me to started to drag, especially around the Dwarven areas. It was a slog to finish (but worth it in the end).
My hat goes off to BioWare for turning out yet another excellent game. I have to give them kudos for making such an excellent RPG that hit the mark on so many levels and truly defined and highlighted the power and point of roleplaying games again. They’re all about character and story and Dragon Age has that in spades.
Suffice to say that I’m now hyped up for Mass Effect 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic more than ever.